I believe Tuesday night will be a short one, meaning we will know well before the east coast hits the sack that Hillary Clinton will become the 45th president of the United States.
Before James Comey announced his reinvestigation of Clinton’s email server situation due to the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner lap dance, I mean laptop, and its tons of emails that Huma failed to disclose to the FBI (anyone surprised?), and before the WikiLeaks, emphasis on “Leaks’” drip, drip of undeniable proof of Clinton and Democratic Party cronyism, collusion and corruption, I thought that not only would Hillary win, but win big, as her coattails (pantsuit tails?) would usher in a Democrat-controlled Senate and possibly, House as well.
Not anymore. Barring any new major Trump stupidity or any very serious nasty revelation, it looks like the Congress will hold. More on that later.
Comey and his FBI cannot be fully blamed for the latest tightening of the polls. I think it is a good part of what has been going on this last week, don’t get me wrong, but there is more to it. Much more. It wasn’t only the multitudinous undisclosed emails, or that they had a connection to America’s second most controversial Twitterer, or that America was given an inside view of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, exposing pettiness, deceitfulness, hypocrisy and media manipulation.
At last, genuine Clinton fatigue had arrived. A weary American populace finally got it. It registered that anything and everyone Hillary and Bill Clinton touch becomes tainted in some way, and a majority of the citizenry no longer wanted to be a part of it. Or feeling they had no choice, they at least decided they would consciously see to it there would be a check against a future reverse lame duck president who would limp into office on January 20, 2017.
Much of the nation might be repulsed by Donald Trump, but notwithstanding Comey again letting Hillary off the hook (for the emails) which will have little effect if any, the country is as tired of the Clintons, and their recklessness, and their ruthlessness, and their exploitation of a charitable foundation to money-grub and live high off the hog, and their using the most serious levels of government to play fast and loose with national security as they rewarded the most repugnant and despicable benefactors with pay-for-play patronage.
OK, enough of that. It is time to crunch the numbers.
As of the writing of this column, the RealClearPolitics (RCP) electoral map, noting each state’s winner even by a slim margin, shows Clinton/Kaine at 297 electoral votes and Trump/Pence at 241. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has it Clinton/Kaine at 292 and Trump/Pence at 246. My own numbers are Clinton/Kaine at 322 and Trump/Pence at 216. Hillary may even do better than that. There are other pundit maps but they haven’t decided the toss-ups, so the numbers are incomplete.
Here is where I differ with the others. I give a bit more credence to Clinton’s powerful get-out-the-vote machine. Trump pretty much has no machine, relying more on rallies than a ground game for turnout, and as was shown in 2012 when Mitt Romney went down, even exorbitantly large crowds of the faithful in massive arenas do not a president-elect make.
Much has been made of the lack of enthusiasm of black voters and although they won’t go out as they did for Obama twice, no surprise there of course, they will show up – giving upwards of 95% of their votes to Clinton, enough to help make the difference in certain battleground/swing states. So will other demographic groups.
Silver gives Florida’s 29 electoral votes to Trump. I give the Sunshine State to Clinton. Blacks, Latinos and Jews in South Florida will go big for Hillary, with blacks in the north e.g., the Jacksonville area, cancelling out the panhandle and other rural parts of the state.
RCP and Silver have North Carolina going to Trump. I give its 15 electoral votes to Clinton. The demographics are changing in the Tar Heel State. Blacks are now a fifth of the population, millennials at least the same, six out of ten North Carolinians are college-educated, and the Latino population is growing. They will make the difference flipping this Romney-won tight state as those groups easily go Clinton.
RCP and Silver give Nevada’s 6 electoral votes to Trump. I give them to Clinton. Clinton’s people are coordinating with retiring US Senator Harry Reid’s very formidable political apparatus. They will get out a good registered voting portion of the nearly 30% of the state’s Latinos, and we know how much they love The Donald. Early voting shows heavy Latino-area turn-out. I don’t think these energized voters are mobilizing to assist Trump with his wall.
RCP gives New Hampshire and its 4 electoral votes to Trump. I don’t.
By the way Trumpsters, stop salivating about Pennsylvania. You never had a chance in the Keystone State. And there is no hidden army of bashful Trump supporters too ashamed to admit their preference to pollsters.
Let me also mention, the gender gap will be huuuuuuuuuuge. Well, not as bad as it could have been, considering. But the ladies will get their revenge on Trump when Hillary wins her gender by 10 points or more.
Now having said all of the above about the presidential numbers, I could simply go along with the paid professionals, but I haven’t in the past and done OK. And what fun would that be anyway? No guts, no glory.
Aside from the obvious major stories coming out of the race’s conclusion, e.g., the first woman elected president, the justified anger of the ignored white working class, there will be other narratives.
Black voters were a major contributor to Obama’s elections in swing states, so much so, that even had the Republicans run perfect campaigns, they still would have lost. Trump with his nasty rhetoric, not only turned off many educated voters, but woke up the “sleeping giant,” Latino voters, and they will help propel Clinton in her win of certain swing and other states.
For the record, although the overall popular vote does not matter, I think Hillary beats Trump by four to six points.
[11/7/16 UPDATE (as of the 5 PM in Los Angeles): RCP now gives New Hampshire to Clinton as I had done yesterday. More significantly, they have taken Florida away from Clinton and given it to Trump after a late poll. RCP is now 272 Clinton to 266 Trump. Yikes, 270 is the number to win. Can’t get much closer than that. I will stay with Clinton there. Silver shows Florida, Nevada and North Carolina to Clinton, also as I had done yesterday, but still has Hillary only at 300 electoral votes to Trump’s 238.
I wrote above, “My own numbers are Clinton/Kaine at 322 and Trump/Pence at 216. Hillary may even do better than that.” It is very possible now, and not because of Comey’s latest silliness, that Hillary could get Ohio taking her to 340, even though Trump is ahead by a few points in the average. That was my low number before the Comey investigation reopening. I didn’t mention Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin because I believe they will stay blue even with a bit of tightening, even with Michigan suddenly becoming a toss-up state according to RCP.
As an FYI, RCP is simply poll average driven; Nate Silver uses a complex system to create percent chances of winning and he updates his numbers as soon as he gets new data, and that can be many times a day.
So why did I mention the Jacksonville area in Florida for the black vote? Yes, there is a lot of attention on Florida, but no, I didn’t hear or see anything about Jacksonville on the news. I used to have a friend who lived there and I became cognizant of that area’s population. Nearly one third of the nearly one million people in the metro area are black and they will vote, helping turn this all-eyes-on swing state blue at least for this election. Regarding Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has a large black population and they came out for Obama and will for Clinton.
By the way, if you have been watching the news, you have not just heard the media bemoan a somewhat low African American early voting turnout, but you have even heard Clinton surrogates stating it. This is all to somewhat shame some of the base and get them energized. The Democratic Party will get the black vote out and although perhaps not at historically high numbers as for Obama’s two runs, their vote will not be insignificant at all. You will see.]
Let’s go to the Senate. The current breakdown is 54 Republican and 46 Democrats – this includes two Independents who caucus with the Democrats. The Democrats need four plus a Hillary win to take the upper house. (With a 50 – 50 tie, the Vice-President becomes the deciding vote.) I agree with RCP. Ticket splitting will yield a 52 – 48 Republican Senate. It may end up 51 – 49, but still, Republicans should hold. I hope, gulp.
Of note in very tight races, Indiana’s popular former governor and senator, Democrat Evan Bayh, will lose, Wisconsin’s former senator, Democrat Russ Feingold, will reclaim his seat, incumbent Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire will hold, and Florida’s Republican senator, Marco Rubio, will win reelection. (Of course, had the GOP not senselessly nominated terrible candidates in previous election cycles, there wouldn’t be any need for nail-biting.)
[11/7/16 UPDATE (as of the 5 PM in Los Angeles): Well, with Nevada turning out heavy numbers of Latinos as I mentioned above, RCP now gives the senate seat to the Democrats – Latinos voting for Democrats down ballot, making the Republican hold 51 to 49. Suddenly, New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte race and/or the North Carolina race with incumbent Republican Richard Burr trying to hold on look tenuous. Sigh. Thanks a lot, Donald. I had originally thought you could take the Senate down with you, and now, well, we will have to see. I hope the GOP holds, but I am worried.]
The current House breakdown is 246 Republican to the Democrats’ 186 seats. Two vacancies will go to the Democrats in effect giving the Democrats 188, so 30 other seats are needed for a flip. It is hard to find anything definitive, but it looks like the Democrats may only pick up five to ten seats.
Polls will be squirting out fast and furious all the way down to the wire and everyone may make slight numbers adjustments right up till the polling place doors open on Tuesday.
Now for some admonitions. Yes, you have to read them.
To those in the Republican Party who gave us Trump, and I know so many of you still think he will win, and if he doesn’t, the election must have been rigged as you believed made-up polls while dismissing the real ones, you blew it. Don’t blame me or anyone else who wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid.
There were never enough Republicans to put any GOP candidate over the top without a good portion of Independents, which Trump won’t get, and fair-minded Democrats, who won’t touch the New York businessman. And you don’t win over non-Republicans with the most divisive, polarizing candidate in this generation, maybe in this country’s history. Your candidate is to blame for this debacle, and so are you.
It is high time the GOP accepts not just that the country is changing, but that it already has, and in many ways. If Trump voters and social conservatives keep vying to make the GOP match only their vision and without even begrudging compromise, i.e., a party perceived as one of angry white men and puritan perfection respectively, then although it may still win plenty of congressional seats – for now, it can permanently kiss the White House goodbye, with the other branches of government eventually to follow.
Sure, you will keep your principles intact, but you will also lose one demographic after another, and that hurts the country, because weak parties can’t effectively contribute to the good policies or counter the bad.
To the Democrats, on Tuesday evening, go ahead and celebrate the accession of the entitled one, anointed back in 2009. But not because she was deserving – she was not, not even close. It was because the Republicans were stupid. You dodged the bullet. Any decent, non-polarizing, opponent would have easily beaten her.
Those of you Democrats, the ones in unhealthy, obsessive, perpetual denial about Hillary, who amazingly believe she is as pure as the driven snow, an innocent victim of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” led by Fox News and the Koch brothers, along with the ones who acquiesced even though they knew the truth but were too cowardly to admit it, you were as selfish as your candidate, who like Trump, should never have run. I have joked they should have run together on one ticket, they were both so equally detested.
Finally, you will get what you wanted with Hillary, but you will inherit her baggage as well, as one of the most unpopular persons ever to be elected president somehow tries to govern. She will make history by being the first woman elected to the highest office in the land, and congratulations for that, it is exciting, but she may also make history by joining her husband in impeachment. If her past sins don’t catch up with her, new sins may. Like a true Clinton, when it comes to recklessness, she just can’t help herself.
Hillary would be wise to reach out to the other side right away, and dump all those in her inner circle who feel as entitled as she does and who have enabled her arrogance much as she enabled Bill’s shenanigans when he was in office.
No more Huma Abedin, no more Cheryl Mills, no more Sidney Blumenthal, no more David Brock, not even John Podesta, and I can list more tainted “no mores.” (I doubt this will happen.) There are many good non-partisan Republicans who could help Hillary and she should pick one – better two, for her cabinet. She needs to stop playing the victim and finally keep her nose clean. Take the foundation out of Clinton hands, away from Bill, even Chelsea. And send Bill out on the road, even if it means he begins dating openly.
OK, that’s all for now, folks. I will either look like a genius or a dud. Or somewhere in between. And I will be back next week to take a bow or take my lumps.
Vote early and vote often, sports fans, and may the Schwartz be with us!